Tuesday, April 5, 2016

D is for Dockyards

D is for Dockyards

Simon Fowler, in his book Tracing your Naval Ancestors: A Guide for Family Historians, reminds us that:

 "the Admiralty was the largest employer in Britain (in the 18th and 19th centuries) employing thousands of men at its dockyards."

Some dockyards included: 

Cadiz (or Mediterranean)
Cork or Haulbowline
Jamaica or Kingston
Minorca (or Port Mahon)
Nelson's at Antigua
Penang (or Prince of Wales Island)
Plymouth or Devonport
York (or Lake Ontario)

I've highlighted the dockyards that were Royal Naval dockyards.  The others were called outports as per this guide on the Royal Museums Greenwich site.

My great-great grandfather Edward Conner/Connor was a fitter in HM Dockyard (I am presuming Portsmouth as that is where he lived) per the register of St James hospital in 1897.  See this blog post here for how I discovered this.

Simon Fowler recommends downloading the In Depth Research guide to the Royal Naval Dockyards at the TNA for those researching ancestors in Dockyards. You can see it here.

When I tried to search the Yard Pay Books for Portsmouth, I could only find records up to 1856.

The Colonnade Gate, Once Part of the Deptford Dockyard
The Colonnade Gate, once part of the Deptford Dockyard by Loz Pocock on Flickr, Creative Commons Licence

Edward married Rebecca Foyne in Deptford in 1851 so it might be worth searching ADM 42 for Deptford too as I can't find any evidence of Edward and Rebecca being in Portsea/Portsmouth until the 1861. Hmmm....no joy there either really given that the records seem to only go up to 1843.  I wonder if Edward ever walked through the Colonnade Gate as pictured above.

The Greenwich site has this to say about Deptford dockyard:
Founded 1513, it was the leading dockyard in the 16th century, but due to the silting of the Thames by the 18th century its use was restricted to ship building and distributing stores to other yards and fleets abroad. It shut down 1830–1844 and closed 1869.
So I suppose that is why Edward and Rebecca moved to Portsmouth.  I think Edward was born in about 1828 and I suppose he could have started work in the Deptford dockyards quite young. So I will put that on my to do list.  

Alternatively I could search ADM 36 - 38 - Ships Pay Books and Musters. ADM 38 would be most appropriate date wise for my research into Edward Connor.

Two other sets of records worthwhile researching would be ADM 23 (Registers of Pensions and Allowances) and PMG 25 (Pensions of artificers and labourers in the Admiralty Dockyard Service, including from 1867 to 1894).

Image from Pixabay by Blickpixel 

Of course I would have to research in person at the National Archives in the UK or employ a researcher as these records have not been digitised. 

The National Archives website has a list of independent researchers that can help you in your research if you are unable to attend in person.  You can narrow it down by subject.  There are over 50 researchers listed who can help in the area of Royal Navy and Genealogy. With so many names, how would you know how to choose?  Check out their websites.  Are they members of AGRA?  How much would you have to pay?  How long is a piece of string?  But from searching a couple of websites the going rate seems to be about £30 per hour plus costs.

This post is part of the Blogging A-Z challenge.


Jill Ball said...

Looks like a trip to Kew is on your Bucket List, Alex.

Alex Daw said...

Oooh yes...for sure!

Wendy said...

You are finding all kinds of great sources. I hope others with ties to the Navy find your blog.
Wendy at Jollett Etc.

Cassmob (Pauleen) said...

There's always another record to search and questions to ask :)

@cassmob from
Family History Across The Seas

Suzanne McClendon said...

I think it would be a great deal more fun to do the searches myself at the Archives than to hire out the job. Just think of all the other information that you could potentially find if you were looking, that you did not know to look for initially? If you didn't know to look for it, you couldn't request that the researcher look for it.

This has happened to me on several occasions in my own research. I often search through old newspapers for obituaries. While I have not always found the obituary for which I was searching, I have found obituaries for other relatives that I didn't know about, as well as articles concerning various relatives.

Research is a great adventure!

Cassmob (Pauleen) said...

I am so "on the page" with Suzanne's comment...the serendipitous discoveries or just the wider perspective.

Alex Daw said...

Indeed Pauleen...oh for endless time and dosh to do these things.

Alex Daw said...

Dear Suzanne...you are quite right..doing your own research is best.